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'Kitshoff has been dominated...he's certainly been exposed'

By Ian Cameron
Springboks and Ulster prop Steven Kitshoff (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

Stephen Ferris has gone in hard on Steven Kitshoff’s performance at Ulster after an underwhelming six months with the Irish province.

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Ulster confirmed that the South African loosehead will depart at season’s end, two years shy of his contract’s conclusion, to rejoin URC rivals the Stormers.

Kitshoff – who joined Ulster following his second World Cup win with South Africa – made his debut against Glasgow Warriors shortly after, but has failed to make the impact many would expect from the Rugby World Cup winner.

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Steven Kitshoff on the Behind the Ruck hot seat

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Steven Kitshoff on the Behind the Ruck hot seat

Former Ireland and Ulster back row Ferris said despite fan hope’s that Kitshoff would significantly bolster Ulster’s scrum, the prop has been overpowered in matches.

“I’m sick of talking about the negatives of Ulster rugby, it seems to be never-ending,” Ferris told Balls.ie.

“There were rumours before that Ulster might try get him off the wage bill even though he’s only been in Northern Ireland not even the guts of six months, I believe.

“It’s a weird one because everybody was so excited to get this double World Cup-winning loosehead prop who’s going to bring so much to the table, Ulster were going to leap on and that hasn’t happened. If anything Steven Kitshoff has been dominated in the scrum.”

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The issues in the scrum, according to Ferris, are not solely Kitshoff’s responsibility, suggesting that the combination with teammates such as Rob Herring, Tom Stewart, and Tom O’Toole has also faced difficulties.

“I’m not saying it’s down to him, whether it’s Rob Herring or Tom Stewart scrumming down beside him as well as Tom O’Toole, they are getting under massive pressure and under the pump and he’s (Kitshoff) certainly been exposed as well.”

It is thought that Kitshoff’s exit is as much a money-saving exercise as a reflection on his performances. Ulster – who recently saw the exit of CEO Jonny Petrie and their head coach Dan McFarland – revealed losses of £900,000 for last season and are under pressure to tighten their belts.

The Belfast-based province now face the unenviable task of finding a high-level loosehead to replace Kitshoff, which is made all the more difficult by the fact that most top players have already been nailed by their clubs ahead of season 2024/25.

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